The American Militia

Who Said Anything About Duck Hunting?

Things are heating up here in Maryland on several accounts; The Legislature is back in session, recent elections have driven our state even more liberal and the anti-gun forces are feeling their oats. A brand new shiny "Assault Weapon Ban" has been introduced in the State Senate with similar legislation in the US Congress.

Because of this, and other subjects, the topic of firearms has been picked up on a few local talk shows. Just last Tuesday (2-20-2007) on a show called The Buzz, the local Libertarian type moderator and his not so Libertarian co-talker, were debating things firearm in general and hitting on a few specific topics. I had the impression I was listening to the play-by-play description of a professional wrestling match. In this corner, Captain America defending liberty; And in this corner, his opponent, the amazing Slime Ball, emotionally attacking everything regardless of facts. Yes, it was a lively discussion, if it can be called that. On one side was a calm recitation of facts, but it was being rebutted by a vast array of innuendo, presumption, hyperbole, ad-hominem attacks, and just outright rude, crude and socially maladjusted behavior.

But on to the meat of the discussion, firearms and Assault Rifles. Here were the basic points; Who Needs an Assault Rifle, what is an assault rifle and what does the Second Amendment have to do with it anyway?

Our brave Captain America had his basic argument for freedom well prepared, but, unfortunately, on the subject of firearms, he was not too knowledgeable. As he has explained in the past, he is just NOT a firearm enthusiast. In spite of several technical points which got in the way of the overall discussion, a bit of headway was made on that pesky Second Amendment, the issue of Assault Weapons and that burning question of "Need". A little education will come in handy; so here goes.

First, let me clearly say, "The Second Amendment is NOT about duck hunting".

I say this because a recurrent theme in the slime attack was something along the lines of, "What do you need an Assault Rifle for, it is not suitable for hunting." This brings up the second most prominent mis-applied argument, that of Wants and Needs; but Iīll get to that later. Back to hunting and just what is the Second Amendment about and why is it important to know that the American Militia understands this?

Lets study that part of the Bill of Rights, bit by bit, to see what it Says. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." First off, it mentions "a free state" in its introductory clause. What is that? What is the "state" they are talking about? You can have an interesting discussion about this and obtain some understanding by delving into the word "state" and the possible double-entendre in its use.

State; A mode or condition of being ... condition of mind ... social
position ... body of people occupying a territory and organized under
one government ... the government of such a body ... one of the
constituent units of a nation...

These several meanings are taken directly from a dictionary.

The Second Amendment also contains the phrase "the people" in its second clause.

Let us first assume State means the condition of being and "free state" means the condition of freedom. Reading the second part, that "the people" have something to do with the Amendment, tends to support the first phrase as a condition or state of freedom; people can have freedom, other "things" can not. Along that line, People have Rights, other entities or things do not. The two phrase support each other, each implying that the other applies to people as individuals and as individual members of a group.

Now; Let us assume that State means the constituent unit of a nation (the State of Maryland for example). How does freedom apply to this type of state? People have freedom, things do not. A geopolitical unit (a state) can not have freedom or rights. But can a condition of freedom exist within a state, and if the state is the "body of people occupying a territory...", then can freedom apply to them both individually and as a body of people? Yes it can. All possible meanings of the word "state" support its being comprised of individuals and groups of individuals but not a geopolitical entity.

Just who might the "people" in the "state" be protecting themselves from? Who are they ready to oppose so as to ensure the condition of freedom? If the people are collectively ONLY the body occupying the territory, all of the people residing in the state, then it is protecting the freedom of that body as it exists under a larger encompassing entity, the nation and its federal government. The body of the people ensure the security of the free state, on a macro scale, from the encroachment of national or federal forces (or any other outside extra territorial forces for that matter). If the people are individuals they do the same thing AND protect themselves individually from other forces denying freedom on a micro scale. These forces include other individuals (criminals, etc) and all other entities (the State and National governments and outside invaders). I guess it is in this context from which the phrase "enemies foreign and domestic" arose. As a historical prospective these various "people" individually and collectively comprise the general "Militia" which is tasked with protecting the free state. This fact is codified in state and federal law; Look it up. This general militia is the micro scale defender of freedom. It is the people individually, ready to muster into local units, and not a standing select group (the select Militia such as the National Guard Army). The latter is in fact a part of the federal army which came into being in the 20th century, not in 1789.

What else supports this concept of the people, individually and collectively, defending freedom? There are three main documents supporting this discussion. The Bill of Rights and the Second of them cited above, the Constitution which contains it and the Declaration of Independence from which all the others grew. The concept of freedom is most clearly stated in the Declaration which set out precisely our grievances against tyranny and our natural right as humans to correct that tyranny. Take a look at the second paragraph of that document. In an effort to be precise it is quoted in its entirety below, although only a part of it strikes to the heart of this discussion.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

Now to that critical language, highlighted above. We are instructed by our founders, by history and by human rights to guard life, liberty and its freedom, because without it the general goal of Safety and Happiness can not be maintained. This is important, we were not given freedom in 1775 or 1789, by any act of our government, to be enjoyed thereafter and forever more. Our freedom is an inalienable right. If that term is too difficult here are some equivalent terms; Human Right, God given Right, Natural Right, etc. Such rights exist in man as part of humanity, it is neither given by another nor can it be taken away by another. We must guard freedom every day, because it is under constant slow erosion as time progresses. Eventually, as in 1775, the actions against freedom mount up and reaction is required to reform or abolish that which diminishes freedom, and to then start anew.

Now we are back at the Assault Weapon ban of 2007, both the Maryland State legislation and the Federal legislation. We are now at the question as stated on The Buzz talk show of "Why do you need an Assault Weapon, you canīt hunt with it and defense of the home is better with a handgun or a shotgun".

The response is, why might you want to eliminate any of the tools of freedom? Some circumstances may argue in favor of one tool over another, but can you really believe that any choice should be eliminated? And just what is this Assault Weapon you are so afraid of? To correct some errors; Yes I Can Hunt with an Assault Weapon (though I do not hunt). Yes I can defend my home with an Assault Weapon; There are those who have said that a pistol is just a tool that you use to defend yourself until you can fight your way to your rifle. The rifle prevails against multiple attackers approaching your home. In the Second Amendment / Declaration of Independence scenario, the rifle is a must. No one can say that Assault Weapons are not needed. No one can deny an individual the ability to defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To attempt to do so is immoral.

Your "Assault Weapon", that which some seek to outlaw, is not my Rifle. The anti-gun forces have bastardized the common military term Assault Weapon to now mean almost any center-fire firearm. If they do not like it or afraid of it, it is now an Assault Weapon. If it looks scary, it is an Assault Weapon. The pending Maryland Assault Weapon bill would include even most center-fire magazine fed pistols. Its wording is far too vague and far too all encompassing; but perhaps that is what anti-gun forces want.

Now lets take a look at the anti-gun complaint of why anyone "Needs" an Assault Weapon. Actually this was handled quite well by one of the callers to The Buzz when he asked, "Why do you need a high powered fast car." That could have been any of a dozen question, like why do you need an SUV, Fancy clothes or a big house. Let me ask you; Canīt you drive your car quite well, even without those nasty seat belts you are required to wear? You can get in, start up and do quite well driving around without them. You do not need them; YET? No, not yet. But when you do need them, you need them RIGHT NOW. You do not have time to look for them, unlock them and put them into use. By then you are squished in your car or murdered by your attacker if "them" that you need is your firearms.

This is a lesson to remember. It is simple, but still it is difficult for some to understand. There is a difference between Needs and Wants. We Want to be prepared (seat belts and insurance) in the event of a Need (accidents). The probability of any particular need might be small. Some might say one is paranoid if their wants include to be protected against unlikely needs. Do you have fire or flood insurance? How likely is a fire or flood at your house? Do you have a burglar alarm? Do you have disaster supplies, food, water and a generator in case of natural disaster? You do? Good!

Now; Do you have the ability to defend your home and all those supplies you have so carefully gathered to secure your survival when the criminals decide it will be expedient and easier to take what you have prepared, rather than to provide for their own survival? You might just need that Assault Weapon and the shotgun and the pistol to defend your home under serious circumstances. You can easily expand this need into the Second Amendment scenario, to the case where elected officials enact unconstitutional and tyrannical laws. Your need then expands and requires more serious tools. You will have to defend the Constitution against tyranny, and for that you Want the proper tools. Defense in what has then become the hard fight will also require the proper training, conditioning, associates and communication; But that is another story. Better to act today in the legislature with the easy fight for freedom than to let things degrade to a hard fight from tyranny.

The American Militia knows that by whatever name such an attack may be branded, you Want to keep and stand ready with your battle rifle and other tools if the Need should arise. Even Captain America now knows this lesson.

The American Militia understands.

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Most recent revision April 2007